It’s not just for conductors!
Knowing the coursing order can help everyone. If you (or the ringers around you) are a bit unsure of the method, it helps to know the order in which you would meet other bells, especially at the back or the front.
In some methods the coursing order helps more than in others. If you are told ‘it’s Plain Bob coursing throughout’, that means that everywhere you pass the bells (apart from the Treble) in the coursing order.
What is the coursing order?
In a plain hunt, it is the order that the bells follow each other to the front or the back, and also the order that they pass each other in between. It is a cyclic order (so you can start anywhere) but easiest to remember as ‘down the odds and up the evens’: 75312468.
In Plain Bob, the Treble doesn’t keep in step with the working bells, but if you omit the Treble, and think about the other bells, the coursing order throughout is (on eight) 7532468. Again it is cyclic, so you can start anywhere and keep going round: 753246875324687532468.
In Major, 7&8 normally course together, so people take them as read and just say what the others are, so instead of ‘7532468’ people just use ‘53246’, which means the same thing.
A call alters the coursing order, but since we ring plain courses of most methods, especially new, unfamiliar ones, most of the time, the coursing order is 7532468.
Most methods (the so called regular methods) have Plain Bob lead ends, ie the rows with the Treble leading are the same as Plain Bob, even if they aren’t in the same order. The coursing order is defined in terms of the lead ends, so it is always the same, even if the order the bells actually meet each other between the leads is mixed up.
For more information, please read the rest of the article: Coursing Order.
If you would like more help then the following article is also useful: